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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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Mohamed Gadelrab

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Mohamed Gadelrab


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burden of proof
religion
Wed, Nov 21, 2018 - 02:31 AM

I know there is a fallacy in this, but I can't spot it

Hello
I got into a debate recently with a believer of a certain religion. Let's call them "Person 2".They used this as one of their arguments:

Person 1: your book says that someone once bent water out of their hands. This is biologically impossible; how can this be true?

Person 2: we can't go back then and find out, so we can't assume if this is right or wrong, therefore it can't be used as an argument against my belief.

What fallacy did person 2 commit here?
Also another person gave a different response. Can you help me spot the fallacy Person 3 commits too?:

Person 1: your book says that someone once bent water out of their hands. This is biologically impossible; how can this be true?

Person 3: the book says this was a miracle, therefore its supposed to be out of the ordinary and out of the norms.



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Alan

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Alan


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Print Thu, Nov 22, 2018 - 06:10 AM
Look up Russell's teapot, and argument from ignorance


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Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Wed, Nov 21, 2018 - 06:32 AM
I would say that both of these are not fallacies, rather just demonstrations of poor critical thinking skills (or applications of "faith"). In the first example, the person is claiming that just because we would not be a witness to the event in question, that no evidence can help determine the probability of the event, which scientifically, historically, legally, and theologically is completely wrong. For example, if I claimed that when I was five I rode a unicorn to Saturn, we can weigh the likelihood of that being true to alternative hypotheses (lying, dreaming, etc.) based on what we know about the world and people.

In the second example, this is just an example of someone substituting faith for critical thinking. One of the problems with this is that "it was a miracle" can be used for anything, and therefore, anything can be assumed to be true. Consider my ride to Saturn when I was five. It was a miracle. Of course, this wasn't written in an old book so those who think their old book is infallible and literal believe they are justified in their miracle claim. But there are literally hundreds (perhaps thousands) of "holy books" that all contain wild claims that are mutually exclusive so without going back to reason and critical thought, we have no way of evaluating the miracle claims.
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Michael Chase Walker
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Michael Chase Walker

Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Sat, Nov 24, 2018 - 11:12 AM
What is bending water out of your own hands? Is this a unique talent performed by a certain supernatural being in a specific context at a certain time - because it doesn't seem especially impossible or even extraordinary. Either way it would be a matter of physics than biology. We "bend" water with our own hands all the time in a swimming pool, sprinkling with our hands, or simply swimming, so the claim is insufficient, and therefore meritless.

The description "your book" is meaningless, as well, without knowing the subject, title, genre, etc. If by "your book" you're referring to Stephen Hawking's Theory of Everything I should think it warrants further investigation. If however the book is Maurice Sendak's Mickey in the Night Kitchen, well then, we might dismiss it as poetic license.

Person 2: "we can't go back then and find out, so we can't assume if this is right or wrong, therefore it can't be used as an argument against my belief.
Who said anything about going back? To when, or where? And what does this have to do with bending water? This is a classic red herring as it is a distraction and has nothing to do with the physics of bending water, or the book that claims it as a miraculous event. We needn't go anywhere or read anything to determine whether one can bend water with one's own hands. To answer it we need only define the parameters of the experiment, model, rules and probable replicability. In other words, the scientific method.

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jorge

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jorge


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Print Sun, Nov 25, 2018 - 10:41 AM
You probably got a bunch of replies but I'll comment to practice myself. I still don't know if there's a fallacy so here's my messy work:

I would first try to understand what the problem is and then I would try to think of an example that I can dissect better but still make it so that its an acceptable analogy. Person 1 is arguing that bending water is impossible but person 2 says that we don't know that because we can't confirm that. So the idea is, you can't say that X is impossible because there is no way to disconfirm X. We can go further than that and say add a "therefore" in there. Therefore, my belief in X has not being under attack. Using this idea, let's come up with another situation:

Before I go on, we should take note that there's a hidden belief that Person 1 is making: science says that bending water is impossible. So it would be worthwhile to think of an example where science said, in recent times, that something was impossible but turned out to be possible. I couldn't find that but the next best thing is a list of things that science can't answer [1], like why we sleep. This will point out to the idea that science is not an ultimate authority on belief.

Example 1 Mark believes that we sleep because invisible fairies drop sleeping-dust on us. Science has not confirmed that. Therefore, there are no fairies doing that.

If anything, I'm leaning more to Person 1 in your problem committing a fallacy. Not proving something does not mean it's false.

Example 2. Science cannot prove that the earth is not flat (back in the days). Therefore, the earth is flat.

I would expand more on this but I have to go. Maybe later.

[1] http://www.cracked.com/article_19442_8-simple-questions-you-wont-believe-science-cant-answer.html


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Monte

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Monte


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Print Fri, Nov 23, 2018 - 05:10 AM
If an event is not corroborated by evidence, reliable witnesses, or a pattern of similar experiences that are corroborated, then belief in it might well be blind faith, and we would rightly be suspicious. Not all faith is blind faith, however. We all have faith in gravity, because it is well corroborated.

A holy book isn't necessarily wrong just because it is considered holy or concerns matters out of the ordinary experience. The key is whether it can be corroborated. The Bible is well corroborated by evidence, by witnesses, and by a pattern of like-corroborated events. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, has no corroboration.






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jorge
Sunday, November 25, 2018 - 03:59:40 PM
@jorge: I guess I can edit but I didn't find it. What I'm saying above is that there's nothing wrong with being skeptical. After all, if I insisted that Person 1 is wrong to be skeptical, then I should accept unwarranted claims (everything is a dream). I think person 1 should say that there is no evidence pointing to water-bending by a human being as a real possibility. This way, we avoid saying that because things have not being proven then they are false. I know it sounds like nit-picking but in cases were people really believe in miracles, I think that a good response is to say that even though we reserve judgement, we can see why they believe in such things. Perhaps they did experience something (that can be explained by science). Perhaps there's the super natural. I don't know. I think the rule of not being an a-hole is a good rule. Moreover, if you're worried about indoctrination, calling them out is good but what's the best approach? Now I'm jumping into the real of rhetoric.

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Michael Chase Walker
Saturday, November 24, 2018 - 11:43:05 AM
@Monte: Not all faith is blind faith, however. We all have faith in gravity, because it is well corroborated." Of course, this is a nonsensical claim and blatant false equivalency. We do not have faith in gravity, we have proof of gravity. It is not an abstract concept but physical law and an essential force in The Standard Model of Particles. It is not the same faith attributed to miraculous claims and supernatural events. If we jump into a swimming pool, it is not with blind faith there are no crocodiles in there, it is due to an educated probability, and a innate application of Bayes' Theorem that suggests the probability of crocodiles swimming therein is highly unlikely. That has ZERO to do with faith.

"A holy book isn't necessarily wrong just because it is considered holy or concerns matters out of the ordinary experience." This is clearly an equivocation fallacy. The injection of the word wrong here is just too loaded to be taken seriously. No one is discussing the moral rightness or wrongness of a book, but merely the factual veracity of a claim. No one even used the word holy, so you're assuming elements that are not germane to the original question. (Non-sequitur)

"The Bible is well corroborated by evidence, by witnesses, and by a pattern of like-corroborated events." This is patently false and can be readily and overwhelmingly defeated and disproved.

"The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, has no corroboration." Again this is patently false. In fact, there are more corroborated historical event about the life of Joseph Smith than there are of Jesus of Nazareth. Of course, this does not make any of the supernatural claims of The Book of Mormon any more or less credible than the Pauline epistles or synoptic gospels, but as historical events corroborated by witnesses, newspapers, trials records and even Joseph Smith's murder by mob leaves Jesus hanging way up there in the Rank Raglan scale of fictional figures.

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